On this Mother’s Day, May 9th I will be taking a moment to celebrate my very own special, Un-Mother’s Day and my rights to the reproductive freedoms that have graciously kept my womb un-blessed through all these years test driving different sperm donors. This year “The Pill” turns 50. Everyone knows the Pill I am talking about. The statement “I forgot to take my Pill” is never mistaken for a comment on skipping a dose of the more mundane antidepressants or gastric reflux medicines that populate our bathroom cabinets. The Pill is the Madonna of the pharmaceutical world, with its one word name recognition and ability to spark outrage in devout Catholics.
Ladies, all one hundred million of us Pill consumers, (and the men who love us, or well… at least like to sleep with us!) we must not take our hard won reproductive freedom for granted! In every state our right to reproductive freedom and choice regularly comes into question. Let me give you a little history lesson by which to appreciate our little pastel dose of baby free bliss, just the juiciest bits, I promise! While the story of Margaret Sanger and her quest to develop hormonal birth control is a fascinating one, one of the most important battles of the sexual revolution, the battle to USE those newly developed drugs, was fought in my little home state, Connecticut. Prior to 1965 it was illegal in Connecticut to use any drug or device that prohibited contraception. At the same time Federal laws also prevailed that made it illegal to distribute any materials concerning contraception. In effect, doctors across the entire land where prohibited from educating women about their reproductive health. Even explaining how a menstrual cycle worked could land a physician in jail, because women could take that knowledge and refrain from intercourse around the time of ovulation, preventing unwanted pregnancies. Several times the Connecticut law was challenged, but it wasn’t until 1965 when Estelle Griswold purposely opened a birth control clinic in New Haven, Connecticut, to get herself arrested in order to have “standing” to challenge the law.
Ladies, let this sink in. NOT so long ago, one woman was brave enough to purposefully get arrested in order to challenge the constitutionality of this law. Now let this sink in, after the dust settled surrounding Griswold v. Connecticut, it was still only legal for MARRIED women to have access to reproductive information, as the law was overturned on the grounds that the right to “marital privacy” was violated. It was not until 1972 that The Pill became available to all women regardless of marital status.
It is the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that provides the legal legs, that “right to privacy”, for one of our other cherished reproductive freedoms, Roe v. Wade (1973) that barely escaped the grip of the Bush presidency intact.
This Mother’s Day, after celebrating all of the wonderful Mothers in my life, I will take stock of my empty apartment, silent of the pitter patter of Curchoe progeny feet, I will pat myself on my barren womb for a job well done avoiding unworthy insemination, and raise my glass of red wine in thanks for all the remarkable women who fought so hard for it to stay that way. I might even call up a few of my Un-Mother friends and congratulate them as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think they make any “Thank God You Didn’t Get Knocked Up By That Jerk” cards.